Lay Ministry

Online Certification Program

“You can be like faithful Aaron
holding up the prophet’s hands…”

LSB 826 “Hark the Voice of Jesus Crying”

Do you know the story of faithful Aaron? The Children of Israel were engaged in battle with the Amalekites. Whenever Moses held up his hands Israel prevailed, but when he lowered his hands, the Amalekites would prevail. When Moses’ arms tired, Aaron and Hur held up his hands so Israel could win the battle (Exodus 17:8-13).
Do you have gifts that can support ministry in a congregation setting? Could you lift up the prophet’s hands in your church? The Commissioned Lay Ministry Certificate gives lay persons the education, training and credentials to serve faithfully in The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod congregations. If you are interested in serving within the church, discuss your plans with your pastor. You will need your pastor’s support through the admission process and guidance throughout the program. The 47-credit program is available online, with the exception of two on-campus learning experiences. New cohorts begin every year in June.

Program Features and Benefits

  • Students are equipped to work under a pastor’s guidance and direction in a congregation
  • The program is designed in three levels, with students able to complete as much of the program as meets their needs
  • Students who complete all three levels are available for calls to congregations and agencies and are eligible to be rostered in The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod with the designation “Minister of Religion Commissioned – Lay Minister”
  • Students must have a minimum of an Associate of Arts degree or its equivalent in addition to the Lay Ministry courses to be certified
  • With additional coursework, students can earn a bachelor’s degree in theology

Level 1: Foundations for Service.

Level 1 provides a solid foundation in the study of the Bible and Lutheran theology. The rich, historical background of Christianity and its place among other belief systems is explored.
The Theological Foundations Certificate is awarded upon completion.

Course NumberCourse TitleDescriptionCredits
REL 105Church Leadership (Residency Required)Church Leadership introduces the students to the lay ministry program by seeking avenues for theological and spiritual formation to serve in the church. Residency is required for this course.1
REL 201Old TestamentOld Testament is an overview of the Old Testament intended to acquaint the student with its background, content, and messages.3
REL 203New TestamentNew Testament is an overview of the New Testament intended to acquaint the student with its background, content, and messages.3
REL 204Biblical TheologyBiblical Theology is a systematic study of major areas of Christian doctrine with an emphasis on what Scripture says, as well as how Lutheran doctrine reflects what Scripture teaches.3
REL 387God’s People Through the AgesGod’s People Through the Ages surveys Christian history from Pentecost to the present. Distinctive eras in Christian history will be discussed, with attention to their main contours and the principal dynamic forces at work within them.3
REL 388Varieties of BeliefVarieties of Belief provides a framework for knowing about the teachings, practices, organization, and historical development of world religions and various Christian communities. Emphasis is also placed upon the Christian living in relation to the peoples of other faiths, especially in the North American context, with compassion, biblical confession and a missional intention.3

Level 2: Practice in Service

Level 2 provides a theological toolbox for teaching, leading devotions, outreach, visitation, and family ministry.
The Practice of Lay Ministry Certificate is awarded upon completion.

Course NumberCourse TitleDescriptionCredits
REL 287Christian Care GivingChristian Care Giving offers the student preparing for full-time church work opportunity to understand and apply the theology of the cross and the practice of the church in Christian care giving.3
REL 328Family and Youth MinistryFamily and Youth Ministry explores congregation ministry with and for families by providing students with an understanding of parent and child relationships, teen development, and the place of faith and the church in family life. Special attention is paid to family life education, intergenerational ministry, and strategic planning, with the goal of building ministries that strengthen family relationships.3
REL 229Religious Education of Youth & AdultsReligious Education of Youth & Adults equips the students with practical methods, skills, and resources to teach religion to youth and adults in a parish setting. Provides students with opportunities to strengthen their ability to communicate the Gospel effectively.3
REL 233Communicating Bible MessagesCommunicating Bible Messages helps the student acquire greater skill in communicating meaningful Bible messages, by learning the theory and practice of analyzing a text of Scripture, writing a message for a specific audience based on that text, and delivering the message. Topical and other creative approaches will also be examined.3
REL 311Church in MissionChurch in Mission studies the mission of the Church with a vision toward contemporary ministry and outreach. Emphasis will be given to cross-generational and cross-cultural outreach methods.3

Level 3: Certification

Level 3 provides in-depth study in Lutheran worship and the Lutheran Confessions. Synodical structure and congregational organization, planning and leadership are explored.
Upon completion, the student receives certification by the CUW Faculty and is eligible for call in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

Course NumberCourse TitleDescriptionCredits
REL 495Lay Ministry Seminar (Residency Required)Lay Ministry Seminar brings into focus the students' vocation and the utilization of their spiritual gifts in the service of the church. The participants will present, in light of Lutheran Confessional theology, their personal vocational goals to serve in the church. Residency is required for this course.1
REL 312Office of the Professional Church WorkerOffice of the Professional Church Worker studies the role of auxiliary ministries in the light of the New Testament and the Lutheran Confessions. It pays particular attention to church administration and conflict resolution in congregations.3
REL 221Lutheran WorshipLutheran Worship introduces the main terms and elements of traditional and contemporary worship . The student is exposed to a variety of art forms and the ways in which they can be incorporated into the worship experience. Along with learning the principles involved in assisting with leading a worship service, the student practices these skills in the community.3
REL 383Gospel of LukeGospel of Luke surveys foundational principles and techniques in biblical interpretation using the Gospel of Luke.3
REL 404Lutheran ConfessionsLutheran Confessions is an overview of the historical background and major teachings of the Lutheran Confessions. The major thrust of the course is a discussion of the doctrines of the Augsburg Confessions as these are also expounded in the other Confessions of the Lutheran Church.3
REL 420Lay Ministry InternshipLay Ministry Internship is a course which puts theory into practice in a specialized setting unique to the individual student need. The student intern is introduced to the congregational or institutional arena of professional church work. This presents the student intern the opportunity to experience the vocational option of service as a lay minister. Placement is made by arrangement.3